Last season, the lockout forced MLB to allow teams to begin the year with 28-man rosters. The lockout forced a shortened spring training, and baseball was worried about an increased chance of player injuries. For 2023, teams must narrow their final roster to 26 players. Players listed below with the ** are on the bubble for the final roster spots.
Catchers (2): Christian Vazquez, Ryan Jeffers
One of the biggest needs for the Twins this winter was catcher, and the team signed veteran catcher Christian Vazquez to a three-year deal. Over the last two seasons, Vazquez has averaged 128 games while hitting .265/.311/.374 (.685). Defensively, he grades out as an above-average pitch framer and his ability to throw out runners. Even with Vazquez, Jeffers will start 60-70 games behind the plate. This decline in playing time might help him to stay healthy after injuries impacted him in back-to-back seasons. Jeffers is under team control through 2026, so there is still plenty of time to show his value at the big-league level.
Infielders (5): Luis Arraez, Kyle Farmer, Alex Kirilloff, Jose Miranda, Jorge Polanco
Minnesota was waiting on a Carlos Correa decision, but he signed a long-term deal with the Giants and that changes Minnesota's infield plans. Rumors have swirled about Luis Arraez being a potential trade piece, so the infield group might undergo multiple changes before Opening Day. Kyle Farmer is the team's lone new addition to this group and projects to be the team's starting shortstop. Jose Miranda is being handed the reins at third base following an inconsistent rookie campaign. Still, the front office has confidence that he can be an above-average big-league player. Jorge Polanco and Alex Kirilloff are returning from injury with the expectation that they will return to health in 2023.
Outfielders (6): Byron Buxton, Gilberto Celestino, Kyle Garlick, Nick Gordon, Max Kepler, Trevor Larnach**
Like with the infield, there is no guarantee this outfield group is finalized at this point in the offseason. Max Kepler's name has been tied to multiple trade rumors, and moving him would free up time in the corner outfield for someone like Matt Wallner. Bryon Buxton will continue to get at-bats in the DH role, so Gilberto Celestino provides some centerfield insurance. It will be intriguing to watch how Nick Gordon responds after posting a 113 OPS+ in his first full big-league season. Like many on the Twins roster, Trevor Larnach is returning from an injury-plagued season. Does Larnach have to enter spring training worried about Wallner taking his roster spot?
Rotation (5): Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober
On paper, Minnesota's starting rotation looks strong, but three of the five pitchers missed significant time with injuries last season. Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray were the rotation's stalwarts last season, and they will be relied on heavily again in 2023. If injuries strike, the Twins will use the next-man-up philosophy with pitchers like Josh Winder, Louie Varland, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Jordan Balazovic. Minnesota's front office can certainly look to upgrade this group, but Carlos Rodon, the top free-agent starter, is looking for six years or more. The Twins will never commit to a starter that long, especially with Rodon's injury history. Trading for a starter is also an option, but that will take significant prospect capital that the Twins might not be willing to part with after dealing away players at last year's trade deadline.
Bullpen (8): Jhoan Duran, Jorge Lopez, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar, Emilio Pagan, Jorge Alcala**, Jovani Moran**, Trevor Megill**
Minnesota's backend of the bullpen projects to perform well in 2023, with Jhoan Duran and Jorge Lopez serving as anchors. ZiPS projects feel like the Twins' bullpen is top-heavy, which makes sense considering the recent track record of players expected to be on the roster. Minnesota surprised some by tendering a contract to Emilio Pagan, but the team hopes some of his late-season adjustments will carry over to 2023. Griffin Jax has been working with Driveline Baseball this offseason, which can make him a potential 2023 breakout candidate. Minnesota will have some decisions at the bullpen's backend with other 40-man roster options like Ronny Henriquez and Cole Sands.
What changes will happen to the team's roster before Opening Day? Have the Twins improved this winter? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.